The NFL’s 2017-2018 schedule was released on Thursday night to much fanfare (which in and of itself is a ridiculous thing, seriously, it’s just the schedule guys). While we all have known since the end of last season who our favorite team was playing this upcoming year, no one knew exactly when until just last night. For some fans, the release of the schedule is just a formality. San Francisco and Cleveland will be pretty lousy regardless of whom they play and when, while teams like New England and Oakland should still be pretty good (barring injury of course) no matter what their schedule throws at them.
What I would like to do is take a look at the black eye of the NFL’s 2016-2017 broadcast schedule, the Thursday night games. Below are the matchups:
Week 1: Kansas City at New England
Week 2: Houston at Cincinnati
Week 3: LA Rams at San Francisco
Week 4: Chicago at Green Bay
Week 5: New England at Tampa Bay
Week 6: Philadelphia at Carolina
Week 7: Kansas City at Oakland
Week 8: Miami at Baltimore
Week 9: Buffalo at NY Jets
Week 10: Seattle at Arizona
Week 11: Tennessee at Pittsburgh
Week 12: NY Giants at Washington (Thanksgiving)
Week 13: Washington at Dallas
Week 14: New Orleans at Atlanta
Week 15: Denver at Indianapolis
Chicago at Detroit (Saturday)
LA Chargers at Kansas City (Saturday)
Week 16: Indianapolis at Baltimore (Saturday)
Minnesota at Green Bay (Saturday)
First Impressions: At first glance, did you yawn? Because I yawned. Rams/49ers? Bills/Jets? Giving the dumpster fire Washington Redskins two back to back Thursday Primetime games? Really? Have you learned nothing NFL? Now don’t get me wrong, there are some bright spots, some good matchups. I’m looking forward to Patriots/Chiefs, Titans/Steelers and Saints/Falcons the most. But that’s about it.
Best game on the schedule: It’s got to be Titans and Steelers in week eleven. Who knows where either of those teams will be that far into the season, but I would have to imagine it’s near the top of their respective divisions and making a severe playoff push. Two of the better running games in the league and, if the Titans add a dynamic receiver in the draft (which they should), two of the overall best offenses in the league should square off here.
Worst game on the schedule: Take your pick. Probably Rams and 49ers in week two. Two cellar-dwelling teams square off in a matchup that literally no one cares about.
Most intriguing game on the schedule: I am very interested in seeing Philadelphia travel to Carolina in week six. A young, dynamic Eagles team facing a Panthers team that is trying to bounce back from last year’s disaster. Is a drubbing by the upstart Eagles enough to get Ron Rivera run out of town?
All in all, the schedule is what it is. You’re going to get some good and some bad (and hell, some of the worst match-ups on paper may turn into some of the better games), but you would hope that the NFL would at least try and add some teams with intrigue, with dynamism, instead of teams like Baltimore and Indianapolis, who lack all of that and play on weeks eight and fifteen respectively…and then you have them play each other in week sixteen as well? Break out the No Doze for that one. We will all be watching most of these games, let’s not kid ourselves, but it doesn’t mean we can’t critique the decision-making as it happens, and switch to Dancing With the Stars at halftime.